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After a difficult spell in mid-season, things are looking much brighter again for Brighton & Hove Albion following two victories in successive weeks including a 2-1 win over Chesham Utd last Sunday.
Brighton defender Cally Beaumont talked to us about the team's period of transition this season and how they are looking to improve in the future:
Playing games against teams fighting against relegation is never easy, was it a tough game against Chesham on Sunday?
This end of the season is always tough when you have to roll up your sleeves and dig in, whether you are fighting for survival or position. I have to say we probably made much more of our chances on the day and worked hard for each other, nevertheless Chesham's results this season actually belie what a good team they are. Their first season in the WPL has left them with some great experience I'm sure they will build on as they have some very good players and a good attitude.
That is now two wins on the trot, do you feel the team has turned the corner now after the losing run?
We have the confidence to keep winning but know we have to take it one game at a time as we are still a team in transition. This season will end with practically a completely new team to the one that started the season and if we keep working hard in training and give it absolutely everything we've got, every minute of every game like we have been, then there's no reason we shouldn't get the results we deserve.
Can you put your finger on why the team lost form recently?
We lost five strong players to the WSL in one form or another at Christmas and so we've had to be patient as we try to rebuild the squad mid-season. We have been able to give games to youngsters who have stepped up from our CoE as well as other young players from our title winning reserves side so we've had to learn to gel as a squad during cup or league matches without always knowing the ins and outs of each other's games, which is not an ideal situation. It's been a tough initiation on the younger players but they have shown enormous strength of character, focus and ability which bodes really well for the future of the club.
Tammy Waine has been back amongst the goals in recent weeks, speaking as a defender, how important is it to have someone like her up front?
She is a dynamo of creativity up front and inspires the whole team to work hard. Her experience, enthusiasm and work ethic is second to none and we know that if she's not scoring, she is twisting and turning, making sure she gives their defence a hard time so all the time she is taking or making chances, the ball stays up the other end of the pitch - result!
How important an addition has Toni-Anne Wayne been in goal, particularly for yourself playing just in front of her?
It's great having Toni in the squad. She says she feels really secure with us in front of her and we feel the same with Toni backing us up. She has a wealth of experience, is very strong and very brave in the challenge so it's working out really well. We have three very strong first team goalkeepers now, which says a lot about the club.
This week you have a home game against Charlton Athletic who are doing well, how much are you looking forward to that one?
I've played them regularly over the last six seasons and they never fail to impress with their mix of youth and experience so I'm certainly looking forward to a strong test on Sunday! Like us they've lost a few players to long term injury as well as Gemma Bryan who was always a big threat up front, but now they have Sam Pittuck as a driving force. She's a great player with boundless energy who anyone underestimates at their peril, but we have spent a lot of time with Bridget Swales (our strength and conditioning coach) this season so we are no slouches either. Hopefully we will have Bex Merritt back following complications after a concussion to help Tammy up top. They are hugely experienced players who can defend from the front and are a great example to the younger players.
It is still possible for Brighton to finish in the mid-table (sixth) position, given what has happened this season, would you be satisfied with that?
In a word, NO! It is difficult to be satisfied with sixth, even if you have to accept that as a best case scenario. The league has been extra competitive this season with teams that used to play in a league above testing you, teams drained of strong players by WSL clubs and other teams losing their loan players back to WSL. It seems the majority of clubs that have been flying high this season have either come from a higher league or haven't lost regulars, so the necessity of player contracts at this level is perhaps something to think about moving forward. It is impossible to be consistent when there is an artificially high turnover of players throughout a squad or league during a season. But all in all we're a team who will never be happy settling for anything but the best and we will work hard to finish in the highest position that we can and come back even stronger next season! We were able to show the FA just what a highly professional, extremely well supported set up we have at the club for the England WWCQ at The Amex last weekend, so hopefully they will share our confidence at having a great package to offer the WSL when the next opportunity arises, as that is where we see ourselves - competing against the best.
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